The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Friday, September 28, 2007


Oops, I did it again.

I don't have a vast history of it, but enough to make me believe claims when they surface.

Once, about 25 years ago, give or take, (sorry Dee, I realize I'm busting you here, too) a camping trip with my best friend took a weird turn when I awoke (well rested, as I recall) to find her huddled in a corner of the bed with blankets all heaped up around her. As anyone would, I inquired about what was going on, and she advised me that "ever since I'd notified her about the snakes in the floor," she'd gotten not another wink of sleep. Mortified that somehow they'd get us.

::blink:: ::blink::

"Huh?", I said, rubbing my bleary eyes, wondering what exactly she was going on about.

Had I known about any snake infestation, I, likely, would have shared her horror...and beat hell outta there. But I didn't recall any such conversation. Apparently, after some discussion, we determined that I'd been muttering in my sleep. She'd ignored most of it, but the word "snake" woke her right the fuck up. Frankly, I'm right there with her. Snakes creep me out big time.

She was kinda mad at me that next day. Despite numerous apologies. (Probably her lack of sleep made "cranky" the default setting anyway.) But, it didn't take long before it became an "in-joke" between us.

This morning, D asked me if I recalled waking up and having a conversation with him last night. Now he hasn't had what I'd call extensive experience with me sleep-talking to him, but let's just say he's not a 'virgin', either. 'K?

Apparently, last nights ramble was about someone eating dirt, and my concern with same.

Yeah, reread it if you want. It says exactly what you think it says.

I have no idea what it was about or who (other than a 'she', as reported by my hubby, or I wouldn't know that much). He wasn't able to shed much more light on it either. Which, come to think of it, is always strange to me. Not so much D, but anyone whose reported these incidents to me. I mean, hey, you remembered it enough to remind me about it the next morning, why couldn't you find out more at the time? Sheesh.

Without exception, I never remember anything about these incidents. Rarely, are they revealing (other than the part where I appear unmistakeably addled) or anything other than a nonsequitor. Luckily, my husband finds these middle of the night outbursts amusing. Oh, the slack I get from that man...

Stress, I understand, is the most common cause for this behavior. Given the rare and random nature of my experiences, that would seem to make some sense. Not that I'm terribly concerned, though. Nightshift quirky seems to somehow be expected...given the dayshift variety I'm already rockin'.

So, tell me, Gang, any of you guys Sleeptalkers?

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Matthew Bolton?

Is it me, or did this photo of Matthew McConaughey (from Yahoo today) look a little too much like Michael Bolton (that's circa 1980, btw) for comfort?

I think the curly hair is what got me. I'd never really thought about a resemblance before. But now I'm a little weirded out...and wondering why I hadn't noticed it...before, I mean.

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I'd Like to Send a Dedication Out To a Great Bunch of People!

Another birthday put to bed. But I know how you blog whores love to know the haps. So, here’s the scoop. Finally.

Let's rock a little "Shout Out" to those who deserve it...

To My Kiddies

I love you guys to pieces! I couldn't adore you more! I mean it!! That said, you older ones should try to help your youngest sister when selecting gifts for Mom. 'Cause naughty lingerie is almost always fun to get. But it's kinda freaky coming from your 7 year old daughter.

That said, I just wanna add that it was adorable that she wanted to empty her piggy bank to get it for me (and also adorable that 'D' insisted on sneaking the funds back in there guys are so cute!), and I'll cherish it! Also, it's really very pretty...BIG PLUS!!

[Kid 1], you really shouldn't have spent money on a gift for me! With things as tight for you as they are...and your lengthy list of artistic talents...I'm sure you coulda come up with something special for me. However, the cookbook was thoughtful and I adore you for loving me enough to forego an order of bacon cheesebread. I know what that means to you.

Lastly, [Kid 2], thanks for helping so much to make this one a very special...very memorable...birthday. I know you helped 'D' pick things out and get things ready. You are a doll, Sweetie and I'm the luckiest Mom evah...seriously!!

To My Ma, Pa and Sis

Thanks! Thanks for thinking of me! Thanks for buying me clothes, especially. 'Cause, yeah, forever later and I still have trouble spending money on myself. And sometimes, when you guys do it, I get a twinge of guilt...or two...

But the gifts were all thoughtful and I appreciate you always!!

To the Colletts

It was such a delightful surprise to find a birthday card from you guys in my mailbox! And such a sweet one!! You guys are the best!!

To My Ma and Pa Inlaw (heh...that rhymes)

Always nice to hear from you, but especially so on my birthday!! Thanks for the card and the phone call!! Love you!! (Have a nice trip and we'll catch you when you get home!!)

To Nate

Nate, you're a big pain in wait...I'm just playing. You're very sweet and the dice and the Magic cards (which yielded some particularly fun stuff) are deeply appreciated. Now, quit cheating and let me beat ya, 'k?

To My Darling Hubby

(Were you starting to wonder if you were even gonna be on the list here?)

Hard to believe that you can still pull off firsts, but, of course, you manage it with aplomb. Never before has any man (who didn't share my DNA) baked me a cake. An actual cake. With decorations and candles and everything. Like you were TRYING to make it special...and everything... I hardly know what to would start with "WOW" and end with "How incredibly lucky I am!"

The music (the new Daughtry CD and Kelly Clarkson's new one) and picture frames and candles and movie (HOT FUZZ) were all very thoughtful, and I love them, but...

the things I loved MOST about your gift

* were that you tried to recreate a "package" like you used to get (which, knowing how much they meant to you, is completely adorable)

* that you made me a handmade postcard to add to my collection (I only have one other...from my former brother-in-law, and I treasure it, too) with pictures of you and the girls on it and the sweetest sentiment about being in each others' lives. It was the most thoughtful gift, and I adore you for knowing how much I'd treasure that gift of your time and your talents.

* the flowers are always a romantic gesture and I adore you for finding it appropriate to give them more than once a year...and for remembering what kind (and what color) I like. You have no idea what a joy that is!!

* the ponies were an unexpected and most special reminder of a rather sweet time and you never cease to amaze me with your capacity to remember right where my heartstrings are. It floors me every time. And, by now, it shouldn't. But thank you for being the sentimental fool. I adore you for it.

Thanks, too to Mr. Norton and the Gibsons for sending birthday wishes, and for all the others out there who helped make my day (weekend, actually) a great time. 'ppreciate it...and all of you!!

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Rebels, Beware!

'Cause these, apparently, are "The New Rules"...

Got an email forward from a friend (you've heard me rail about them, so I'll spare you that nonsense now), and for some inexplicable reason, I opened it. Some of it was kinda I'm sharing it with you.

New Rule: No more gift registries. You know, it used to be just for weddings. Now it's for babies and new homes and graduations from rehab. Picking out the stuff you want and having other people buy it for you isn't gift giving, it's the white people version of looting.

New Rule: Stop giving me that pop-up ad for! There's a reason you don't talk to people for 25 years. Because you don't particularly like them! Besides, I already know what the captain of the football team is doing these days --- mowing my lawn.

New Rule: Don't eat anything that's served to you out a window unless you're a seagull. People are acting all shocked that a human finger was found in a bowl of Wendy's chili. Hey, it cost less than a dollar. What did you expect it to contain? Lobster?

New Rule: Stop saying that teenage boys who have sex with their hot, blonde teachers are permanently damaged . I have a better description for these kids: 'Lucky bastards.'

New Rule: If you need to shave and you still collect baseball cards, you're a dope. If you're a kid, the cards are keep sakes of your idols. If you're a grown man, they're pictures of men.

New Rule: Ladies, leave your eyebrows alone. Here's how much men care about your eyebrows: Do you have two of them? Good, we're done.

New Rule: There's no such thing as flavored water. There's a whole aisle of this crap at the supermarket, water, but, without that watery taste. Sorry, but flavored water is called a soft drink. You want flavored water? Pour some scotch over ice and let it melt That's your flavored water.

New Rule: Stop screwing with old people. Target is introducing a redesigned pill bottle that's square, with a bigger label. And the top is now the bottom. And by the time grandpa figures out how to open it, his ass will be in the morgue. Congratulations, Target, you just solved the Social Security crisis.

New Rule: The more complicated the Starbucks order, the bigger the asshole. If you walk into a Starbucks and order a 'decaf grandee, half-soy, half-low fat, iced vanilla, double-shot, gingerbread cappuccino, extra dry, light ice, with one Sweet-n'-Low, and One NutraSweet,' ooooh, you're a huge asshole.

New Rule: I'm not the cashier! By the time I look up from sliding my card, entering My PIN number, pressing 'Enter,' verifying the amount, deciding, no, I don't want Cash back, and pressing 'Enter' again, the kid who is supposed to be ringing me up Is standing there eating my Almond Joy.

New Rule: Just because your tattoo has Chinese characters in it doesn't make you Spiritual. It's right above the crack of your ass. And it translates to 'beef with broccoli.' The last time you did anything spiritual, you were praying to God you weren't pregnant. You're not spiritual. You're just high.

New Rule: Competitive eating isn't a sport. It's one of the seven deadly sins. ESPN Recently televised the US Open of Competitive Eating, because watching those athletes at the poker table was just too damned exciting. What's next, competitive farting? Oh wait, they're already doing that. It's called 'The Howard Stern Show.'

New Rule: I don't need a bigger mega M&Ms. If I'm extra hungry for M&Ms, I'll go nuts and eat two.

New Rule:If you're going to insist on making movies based on crappy old television shows, then you have to give everyone in the Cineplex a remote so we can see what's playing on the other screens. Let's remember the reason something was a television show in the first place is that the idea wasn't good enough to be a movie.

New Rule: And this one is long overdue: No more bathroom attendants. After I zip up, some guy is offering me a towel and a mint like I just had sex with George Michael. I can't even tell If he's supposed to be there, or just some freak with a fetish. I don't want to be on your webcam, Dude. I just want to wash my hands.

New Rule: When I ask how old your toddler is, I don't need to hear '27 months.' 'He's two' will do just fine. He's not a cheese. And I didn't really care in the first place.

New Rule: If you ever hope to be a credible adult and want a job that pays better than Minimum wage, then for God's sake don't pierce or tattoo every available piece of flesh. If so, then plan your future around saying, 'Do you want fries with that?'

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Monday, September 24, 2007


Ran across this funny video on You Tube and simply HAD to share it...

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Outta Nowhere...

Forty Five today.


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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Things That Make Me Punch My Monitor...

Something tells me this guy is in for a few bad days.

Hopefully, about 40 years' worth.

I found this newstory today. I'd gone looking for it as [Kid 2] mentioned it to me yesterday evening. Prior to that, I'd heard nothing of it.

A few other tidbits I found elsewhere (that aren't included in that link) are that Atchison is a registered republican appointed as a Federal Prosecutor by George Bush in 2002, and has been a member of the Florida Bar Association since 1984. His wife is a science teacher at Gulf Breeze High School (in Gulf Breeze, FL), and he is president of the Gulf Breeze Sports Association, a youth athletics organization.

I'd love to spend this post focusing on how profoundly hypocritical republicans are and how deeply, deeply depraved and disturbed, as well.

But I can't.

I can't get beyond the part where a 53 yr. old married man, who is very familiar with the legal ramifications of such behavior, was brokering to have sex with a five year old girl. And the part where he purported that he was very experienced at it.

How many families have been damaged, or destroyed, by this man.

You think his own wife is at school this week? I hope, for their sakes, that his parents are no longer living. I have no idea if he has children, but what a horror for them if he does.

He's asked for a court-appointed attorney. I imagine he has money. I have to assume it's because he can't get anyone to represent him otherwise. As a federal prosecutor living in Florida for more than twenty years, wouldn't you think he'd know some attorneys?

I saw a few blog comments of folks offering their rusty knife, salt and a few months of time to take care of the fella. And another who felt the judge should order a prominently placed tattoo identifying Atchison to his fellow inmates as a serial child molester. Now, neither of those options, to the best of my knowledge, have legal precedence, but I cannot, for an instant, say that I have a problem with them being applied here. I struggle a little with the part where he didn't actually see (or touch) the five year old victim...I do...but I'm willing to work around that since I believe he actually would have. Plus, there's the part where he claims to have done it in the past. (I didn't say it was easy for me to skirt my issues with an actual injured party. I simply said I was WILLING to try.)

Raising a gaggle of girls, these stories are precisely the stuff of my nightmares. Not that I would be taking my girls to offer them to some predator, but that they would be hurt...and that I would be unable to stop it from happening. And it scares the poo right outta me. I mean it.

Even as I type it, I realize how ridiculous it is to say that it always surprises me how many of these pedophiles work around children. Because, OF COURSE, that's what they'd do. How can you trust your children to anyone's care? It seems such a crap shoot.

I keep thinking that if I can just get my girls raised, without them being in this situation, I will declare victory and retire from the field. But that's not quite right, is it? I mean, it's possible there will be grandchildren behind them. And even if I'm not worrying about grandchildren, I'll be worrying about the children of friends and family. Or, damn me, even stranger children.

It makes me long for some magic elixir that will make this stuff just stop.

Sexual variety is a good thing. I really truly believe that. And I don't think having the courts dictate sexuality is what we want. But, certainly, we can maintain that without dragging kids into it...can't we?

Can't we?

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Things That Make Me Spit Mountain Dew on My Monitor...

Sorry...I just thought that was hilarious. (Aren't you wishing I was gone again, now?)

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It's About That Time Again...

Happy 'Talk Like a Pirate Day!', Matey!

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Seasonal Stuff


I saw these photos today and had to share. If you are looking for Halloween costumes for your youngsters, look no further! (This post likely also qualifies as the "one for Tony Collett".)

Once you have resumed your composure (and have decided which costume best fits your child's personality), let me pass along the link which will allow you spend good money on this merchandise.

Sadly, there is no Boba Fett costume. A great disappointment in my own household...

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The Good Ol' Days?

Okay, so I saw this old clip today, and I had to share it with you. (Bless you, You Tube, for all your bountious gifts.)

Remember back in the fifties (some of you will have an easier time with this part than others, so help your neighbor if he's sportin' a blank expression), when folks used to do the craziest things? Dangerous things that would totally get you locked up some fifty plus years later? Oh, and let us not forget, you were bold enough to preserve the moment for all posterity?

Bizarre, huh? Well, because that wasn't disturbing enough, check this out...

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Britney vs. Bin Laden

I found this link (obviously a little late) and wanted to share.

I thought it was pretty funny. Unfortunately, just a week later, it would appear that O.J. is looking for equal time in this throw-down.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Other Things...

File this one under "Miscellaneous". It's the leftovers.

The stuff that I wanted to blog about, but it's not really long enough to do a full post by itself. Come ramble with me.

I talked to my ex about the grocery issue at his place. I waited a full week to do it, because I specifically didn't want to lose my temper. So when he dropped them off, I walked him back out the porch and asked if he had a minute to discuss an issue about the kids.

"Sure," he said.

So I started slowly. I let him know that I'd been privy to a couple conversations that were of concern to me. That the children seemed to believe that there was an inadequate amount of food for them when they were at his house and that I wasn't sure if they'd said anything to him or if he was even aware of the issue.

He looked a little sheepish and said "I'll try to do better." I told him I wasn't trying to pick on him, that I'd fully expect that if he had information that I wasn't feeding the children enough that it was his responsibility to discuss the matter with me and to help rectify it. To which he replied, "Stop nagging me, I said I'd do better."

It was clear further discussion wasn't going to be fruitful, so I told him I hoped he understood that it was an issue I wasn't likely to let lie and left it at that.

Consequently, we're on wait and see mode.

Speaking of "nagging", [Kid 3] has been after me to get some kind of snack for her to take to school and share with her friends. I'd decided I would make some chocolate chip cookies for her to take in, but one thing led to another and this past Saturday was a...well...a bad day (a.k.a. careening trainwreck). I was pulled this way and that and had not a moment.

Anyway, her stepfather, ever sweet man that he is, took care of baking the cookies for her class whilst I was out running errands. She took them this morning, full of pride that D baked them for her and I hope she and her class thoroughly enjoyed them. (Having sampled the wares, I can tell you they were quite yummy!)

I spent the better part of yesterday in the kitchen cooking up a gigantic pot of homemade spaghetti sauce with meatballs and Italian sausage (enough for three full meals, plus leftovers), an apple cobbler and a Boston Cream Pie.

Nate, D and [Kid 2] headed out Friday night to a midnight movie at our local theatre. A big screen showing of TEAM AMERICA, that has all of them chuckling still. I'm glad they all had a good time. I had hoped that [Kid 1] might want to go along, but after work, she discovered some bad news about a friend that had her tied up on an emotional roller coaster for hours. She was definitely in no mood for something like TEAM AMERICA.

"House of Skank" (which is our name for Bret Michaels' 'Rock of Love') is down to the final two contestants. I had, honestly, intended just to watch the first episode to see what kind of women would be on this show. Believe it, or not, it's kind of Flavor Flav, but skankier. Hard to believe, huh?

Anyway, it's been rolling for weeks now and I've caught every episode. Mostly because of this evil, manipulative, lying bitch, named Lacey. And, well, if you HAVEN'T been watching along (and I'm hard pressed to figure out how much shame I need to have to look away), she got voted out last weekend.

To that I give a resounding and hearty YIPPEE!! I really am looking forward to the last episode next week...

but even moreso, to the first episode of the new season of HEROES next Monday!! Now, if that can hold me over until THE SHIELD starts its final season early next year, I should be okay. But I'm still waiting for the the DEADWOOD movies. Milch? Milch? Anybody? Anybody?

Have had some fun roleplaying in D's world with Nate and (occasionally) with my older girls. Still pretty green at it, but it's a lot of fun!

Other than that, hoping to get a couple small day trips lined up for October/November. Mostly to see the fall colors.

Most of the rest of my free time (::snort:: and ::guffaw::) is filled with Magic The Gathering and WAY too much time on GAIA (a website my kids frequent that has completely sucked me in!), although I got a little time in last night kickin' butt on a board game called 'Littlest Pet Shop'.

Okay, that's about all the rambling I can do today. Clearly, I've reached the legal limit anyway! Hoping things in all of your respective worlds are good...

*Lisa, enjoy the fall weather and best of luck finding something soon.
*Mark, I hope the new job works out better than the old one...or the one you passed on.
*Nate (who's rockin' it undercover these days), crossing my fingers for you tomorrow!!
*Mike N., my apologies for the chasm of silence between us. I haven't emailed in ages and sorely miss chatting with you.
*Em, let me know when you'll be in the states...and if there's any change in your plans that has you heading this way, I'll be delighted to put you up.
*Tony, hoping things for you and Kathy are going well.
*Darling D, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the love in your eyes as you were watching the kids playing yesterday. Every day, I know how very lucky I am. Thank you for showing me in so many delightful ways! I love you!

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Ugly Things...

Evening Religious Education is starting up again for the year. My youngest, who is being raised as a Catholic (to follow in her father's footsteps), will begin her weekly indoctrination tomorrow. This is something I used to facilitate, but I no longer take the lead. I have left that responsibility to her father.

The Catholic.

After our split, I made it clear that while I wouldn't stand in the way of this education (I'd promised him long ago that I wouldn't and my word means something to me), I was not Catholic and if he wanted to raise his children in the church, it would be his responsibility to undertake that lead role. I would be supportive to my children as they set and reached goals, but I would not be attending meetings or transporting them to classes.

This year, there has been a change in the order of sacraments. Non-Catholics, feel free to go get a snack or something. This next part is boring as hell.

In the olden days, when my older girls were involved with this program, the order of the sacraments was as follow:

Second Grade = First Communion
Fourth Grade = First Reconciliation
Eighth Grade = Confirmation

Now, the only child I still have in the system is my second grader. So, I knew she'd be celebrating her First Communion this year. Which is a very big deal. (My sister found a great deal on a dress for her some time back, so it's been hanging in her closet for two years.)

However, this year, the archdiocese is trying to return to "Canon Law". And Canon Law (to give you the education I recently received), among other things, indicates that a child must have had their First Reconciliation (and confessed their sins) prior to receiving their First Communion. That'll be tricky, as she got no training last year and she's having First Communion this spring.

The Church's response is to restructure the program to allow first graders to receive the sacrament of First Reconciliation. That way, when they reach second grade, they'll be good to go.

Now, I have a problem believing that six year olds can adequately comprehend the concept of sin or atonement, but let's put that aside momentarily. Because the point, for those of you who are already ahead of me, is that my child did not receive the sacrament last year, and the way that is being addressed is that [Kid 3], along with four other second graders who are in similar straits at her church, will get the "fast and dirty" training for this sacrament. Jam-packed into 4-5 one hour sessions, these 6-7 year olds will learn everything they need to know about how to identify sin, how to try to avoid sin, how to ask forgiveness for sin, and how to atone for sins committed.

I'm not buying the feasibility. But, I've spoken with the education director for the church (a lovely woman, btw, who has always been very kind to me and my girls), and I've discussed my concerns with my ex and given the options (which all involve staying with the church), we've decided to move forward and if we run into any difficulties we'll decide if we need to choose another path at that time.

Part of the plan is that in addition to the sessions at the church, parents are to help reinforce appropriate behavior in the children and lessons such as taking responsibility for bad behaviors and making things right when those things do, inevitably, happen.

Because my ex simply would NOT resolve scheduling conflicts, I ended up having to attend a two hour parent meeting on First Reconciliation the other night, in order to have a ten minute conversation with the education director that could have completely been handled by my ex and then reported to me.

I don't know if it's that he is just so used to me handling these things, or if it's that he's a lost ball in high weeds, or what, but he truly does not see how unfair it is of him to expect me to relieve him of this responsibility. Because believe me, there were a million other things I needed to be doing that night.

Let's say that this hurdle has been, for the time being, handled. My job is to help teach my daughter right and wrong (gee, already on that one), and to recognize her bad behavior (ditto), and to try not to repeat the behavior (ditto...again, I guess), and to take steps to make things right (just barely breaching that one).

It's important to me that my children grow to be kind and charitable and honorable. So these are lessons I haven't been waiting around for the church to advise me to begin. But the reinforcement is fine.

Several days AFTER the parent meeting...where we spent two hours listening to bible verses about people making the effort to do the right thing and how we can teach our children the skills to help them...I got blindsided by the following...

When my ex dropped [Kid 2] and [Kid 3] the Sunday before last, I was cooking a big Sunday dinner and after seeing the mess he'd made with [Kid 1], I retreated to the kitchen before I opened my mouth and said something (true, but inappropriate) in front of the kids. [Kid 2] wandered back to the kitchen and whispered, "I need to talk to you about something as soon as Dad leaves."


Those things never go well. And, frankly, if it's something I need to discuss with him, I'd rather get it out now while he's still on the premises.

Apparently, with [Kid 2] and her boyfriend in the backseat, my ex was, on the way home from the family reunion, instructing my 7 year old that "it's okay to keep secrets from Mommy." That "it's not lying if she doesn't ask about something."

::BIG sigh::

This utter lack of responsible parenting was apparent to my 16 year old AND her boyfriend (who is clueless about things of this nature) to the point where THEY were concerned. But my 48 year old ex, who wants our children to be raised in the Catholic church, didn't see a thing wrong with it.


Until I brought to his attention how I didn't appreciate it and how I would never instruct our children to keep secrets from their father.

He often tells his wimmen about how I have "pitted his children against him". Poisoned them against him. He refuses to understand, or believe, that they are intelligent women and that they are not blind to his character flaws. That they know right from wrong and that they can make judgments on their own.

But, hey, it's not too low to tell your 7 year old that it's okay to keep secrets from Mommy. Nah.... Advising her, in a parental role, that it's okay to deliberately hide behaviors that she knows are wrong, rather than to admit the mistake, change the behavior and make things right. Clearly, it's another example of my unreasonable expectations.

THIS...this stuff that is damaging my exactly the kind of stuff that will push me to go back to court and further reduce their time with him. It's not what I want to do. What I want is for him to be a better father to my children. It's just that more and more, it looks like that is less and less of a realistic option.


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Worse Things...

My ex's family had their "summer picnic" weekend before last. It's an annual event and it happened to coincide with when he had the younger two for a weekend visit this year. That's the younger two of our THREE children. We still have the older one, is the point I'm trying to make.

See, [Kid 3], now that she's 18, has slipped completely off her father's radar. He doesn't contribute towards her life insurance, her dental insurance, any of her school expenses, or anything else for that matter. All of which I find pretty sad, but worse, I asked her the other day if he ever calls to ask how she's doing with school or what's going on with her life and she looked at me as if I were speaking Chinese. "Um, no, Mom. He doesn't call and talk to me about anything."

Our resources are pretty limited, and I'm fighting a losing battle to try to get money I've been owed for over a year, but there is no way I can just abandon my child that way. I can't do as much as I'd like for her. But I split the cost of her first semester books with her, and I've bought every pencil and piece of paper she's used in college. I gave her $6 for a ticket to a play she needs to attend (an assignment for her Theatre Arts class) because (due to her terrible class schedule this semester) she's only able to get 6-10 hrs. of work. At $6.25/hr. (btw, that's including a $0.25/hr. raise she got a few weeks back), it doesn't amount to much. Especially since she needs to save enough to pay for her second semester books by January. I've helped out with snacks to carry to school, so she can keep some of her hard earned money out of the vending machines. And I continue to pay her life insurance and dental insurance because I think that's little enough cost to provide a safety net that could cost her far more not to have it.

I'm pretty sure, though, that even if I couldn't contribute at all financially, I'd be doing try to encourage and support my child emotionally. Especially in an endeavor in which I am proud of her. Or even, you know, to acknowledge that I still claim her.

Now that tangent aside, let me note that, with regard to the "summer picnic", my ex did not even invite his eldest daughter. She found out about it, at all, when her two sisters returned from the event. Chatting about visiting with their cousins and seeing various family members, the look on her face was painful for me to watch.

She was so clearly disappointed that her father excluded her from their plans...that she wasn't given the opportunity to participate in a family event. I keep forgetting the depths of his insensitivity sometimes. Especially since I'm no longer with him.

But I hate to see it being worn on the faces of my children. I just don't understand how you can "forget" that you have three children. And I DEFINITELY don't understand how you can completely mark them off the list when they turn 18.

I will say this, though, my older girls TOTALLY see him for the man he is...and without any help from me. I just wish it were a prettier picture.

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Bad Things...

There's always some of these, huh?

Got a call last week from the Child Support Division regarding their attempts to reconcile the arrearage balance owed my kids by their father. My ex had been down to their offices to try to straighten out an error with the amount owed. He'd listed out some of the payments he'd made towards the balance, but failed to include all of them (he'd forgotten to note nearly $2000 in payments). Child Support was also wrong in their starting date for when the arrearages was to begin accruing. My ex wasn't able to clear that up either.

After two hours there, spent mostly with the Child Support counselor cautioning me about being overly generous (gee, like I haven't heard THAT a million places before) and me arguing that my ex and I had an agreement and I was a woman of my word, we were able to get our figures pretty close. He really couldn't believe, though, that I was refusing to take the full amount that I was entitled to take. (The main difference being medical amounts received that I'd applied towards support instead of breaking them out, as is standard.)

I'll admit, I was surprised to find that I haven't necessarily been receiving the full support (despite a garnishment order) since the court order was established. The arrearage balance I'd been working with was prior to official support beginning. I hadn't realized, however, that I needed to go back and check the amount of payments received electronically each month. Consequently, while I won't be looking at over $4000 (the amount the Child Support Division had believed owed), I will be looking at a few hundred dollars more than I thought I had coming. And that's certainly a nice surprise. Well, it will be if I can actually get it.

As I understand it, they will be recalculating the arrearages, with the corrected starting date and the payments I'd advised must be applied, and then my ex and I will be receiving an updated total to sign off on. He'll then be instructed to set up a monthly payment schedule and we'll go from there.

My big concern right now is not so much the arrearages he owes (which are still around $2000), but are more related to his portion of the medical reimbursements, which will top $800, due later this month. The last I heard, he wasn't sure he could make the payment, and, well, that's gonna kick off an entirely other mess. Which I'm deeply hoping to avoid.

I will say that I appreciate the Child Support Division being so helpful and diligent in trying to work towards helping the children in this city (and mine in particular). And I'm crossing my fingers that the finances get straightened out soon.

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Good Things...

The two younger kids ([Kid 1] had to work), D and I had a lovely time a few weeks back at a local state park. A family member had routed us a free pass and we packed a picnic and headed up. I had checked ahead of time (trying to make the most of the free pass) to see if any events would be going on that might be worth catching. A few, but the one that caught my eye was "BugFest".

Sure. I’m weird. Try to act surprised, huh?

[Kid 3] for some completely unexplainable reason has decided that she’s afraid of bugs. It’s a fairly recent thing, but I thought that kind of easing her back into the reality that bugs are gonna be around us and we have to be able to function with a little controlled environment nature might be a good thing. So I talked to her about it and she seemed to go for it.

There were several booths set up, geared towards educating kids, mostly, about the benefits bugs have to offer. One that had dress-up outfits (which is soooooo up her alley), so that she could dress up like a butterfly. Another that allowed her to draw a picture of a new bug that she would invent. One that had a giant floor puzzle to assemble that was a mass of many different bugs.

This was all set up outside and seemed to be of interest to her and she was enjoying herself. There was also a booth with a toad and a Madagascar hissing cockroach, which [Kid 2] found quite interesting. So, it wasn’t all about [Kid 3] (which sometimes seems to be a bit of a problem at my house). After some coaching and encouragement, she was brave enough to walk into the butterfly tent, with her older sister and quite a few other kids. But she was clearly uncomfortable and wanted back out as quickly as was possible. We were all very demonstrative in our praise for her bravery.

Obviously, we’ve got a ways to go on this issue, but the trip did seem to be a beneficial beginning.

D noticed a hay wagon nearby that was setting up for rides, so we all piled on and took a lovely ride around the park, before heading off to a quiet area for a picnic of tuna sandwiches and applesauce. ([Kid 2] was dealing with some sensitive dental issues and it was easier to just share her limited culinary repertoire.)

Afterwards, we drove to a playground in the park and as D pushed [Kid 3] on the swings, [Kid 2] and I did what we always do when we go to the park, rock out the seesaw. As each of us is "airborne", we strike goofy poses and try to crack each other up. Mental health is highly overrated...LOL!

We all had a pretty fun time, though, and the weather was absolutely lovely.

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I've got so many "things" I wanted to post on here in the last couple weeks. I've started to post so many times, but just didn't. And then the singular blog post just grew and grew and grew.

Until it became entirely unmanageable. No way it could reasonably be one blog post.

So, I decided I'd break it up a bit.

That way I could be as rambly as I wanted...on each topic.

So, there's a bunch of "things" coming up. I'll post them as I get them fleshed out.

Feel free to skip over or around them as is necessary. (Some are mushy and some are most assuredly venty.)

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Death Watch Duty

Usually Mark Gibson handles this stuff, but I saw this notice today (a little late in my reporting...apologies, gang) and wanted to do it myself.

I heard that Madeleine L'Engle died this week. It's been decades since I read A WRINKLE IN TIME, probably her most famous work.

Ironically, as I was reading this notice of her passing I was struck with the odd mental juxtaposition of it with the recent Harry Potter discussion on my hubby's delightful blog. One quote I've plucked from the piece...

Although L'Engle was often labeled a children's author, she disliked that classification. In a 1993 Associated Press interview, she said she did not write down to children.

"In my dreams, I never have an age," she said. "I never write for any age group in mind. ... When you underestimate your audience, you're cutting yourself off from your best work."

I wasn't familiar with that quote. Given recent discussions, I suppose it struck a chord for me. I'm not as familiar with her later work, but would certainly recommend this book for anyone who has missed it heretofore.

Just passing along the sad her fans of any age.

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THIS Is How It Rolls At My Office

So my one boss (the more geeky of the two), comes back to work in the studio about two desks away from me. I'm working fast and furious on some shop drawings for some gymnasium equipment (backboards to be specific) which are screwed up ROYALLY, whilst waiting for one of the new guys to finish setting up some Power Point slides for a presentation tomorrow morning. Once he finished, I knew I needed to review the presentation and see what changes, if any, needed to be made, so I was trying to be productive while I was waiting for him to finish up...and...well...there's always an inexhaustible supply of shop drawings...

So, anyway, I'm marking the hell out of these shop drawings and completely ignoring my boss and he says, from over there in left field, "So I'd guess you're a Monty Python fan, huh?". Only the fans on the A/C units were blowing pretty loud and I couldn't make any sense out of what was coming out of his mouth. It took a minute, and a repeat from him, but I eventually got it.

"Oh, yeah," I said, "I guess it shows, huh? In fact, everyone in my house is."

He kinda laughed and said, "Yeah, I figured as much. Star Trek, too, right?"

"Uh, huh...", I said a little nervously, and with one eyebrow raised suspiciously. 'Cause, maybe this information is why I haven't had a raise in forever. I don't know. Like, maybe, IT'S A TRAP!!!

Anyway, he proceeds with "I got this link from my brother-in-law that you just gotta see. I'll have to send it to you, 'cause I know you'd love it." And he continues to babble without letting me get a word in until he finally says, "You know what, I'm gonna go back to my office and send it to you right now."

O. Kay.

'Cause, there's not a million things going on that are more important than Star Trek and Monty Python. (Hey, I don't think that. I just figured that's Management mind controlling me.) Whatever.

So, he goes back to the other side of the building and sends me an email forward that he got from his brother-in-law.

A You Tube video. (Y'all know how I dig on the You Tube.) (And, yeah, I said 'Y'All'. Deal with it.)

So he's all giggly and dancing around my desk. "You have speakers, right? Or at least sound. You gotta have sound."

"Yeah, I've got sound."

"Well turn it ALL the way up. You really need to be able to hear it." (As, apparently, so does everyone else in the studio, be they a Monty Python fan or not...wait, who cares about them if they're not?)

So, then, I open the link and get this...

Okay, I thought it was funny, but he was doubled over laughing behind me as I watched it.

Knowing you'll be right there with him...

That's right. Two weeks of no posting and THIS is what you get. Oh, the humanity...

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